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Yankee Candle  for sale?

SOUTH DEERFIELD — The Yankee Candle Co., the largest employer in the county, is apparently going up for sale.

Reuters News Service reported Wednesday that the largest candle company in America is preparing a sale with the help of Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The candle maker is owned by an investment firm based in Chicago, Madison Dearborn Partners, who bought it for $1.6 billion in 2006.

News reports indicate the possible sale is in its early stages.

Asked about a possible sale Wednesday, a Yankee spokesperson declined to comment to The Recorder, saying “Yankee Candle does not comment on rumors.”

What another sale of the company would mean for the Franklin County-based company is unknown, although previous sales tended to cast a pall of uncertainty over its future in the county.

This year, Yankee paid $228,027 in property taxes to Deerfield, where it owns eight parcels of land for its corporate offices, flagship store and warehouses.

It also paid $117,987 in property taxes to Whately, where its 209,000-square-foot factory is located.

Yankee employs 1,500 people in Franklin County and 6,000 total nationwide, and for decades has annually given the two host towns thousands of dollars in gifts, including scholarships and emergency vehicles.

Yankee “is a staple of the area,” said Whately Selectman Jonathan Edwards. “A lot of Whately residents are employed there. I hope whoever purchases Yankee Candle would be as good a neighbor as previous owners. I hope it won’t lead to changes in any local operations.”

Deerfield Selectman Carolyn Shores Ness said she is being cautiously optimistic.

“I hope this means a continued commitment to the town of Deerfield and to growth,” Shores Ness said.

Yankee Candle was founded in 1969 by Michael Kittredge, who years after he sold his company helped found Kringle Candle Co. in Bernardston in 2009 with his son, Michael Kittredge III.

As the original owners, the younger Kittredge said Wednesday, his family always holds Yankee Candle “close to their hearts” despite the competition between the two scented candle makers.

Yet, “It’s concerning for the local economy,” Kittredge said. “When a company is traded, it becomes less about the people working there. I’m not saying that would happen, but it’s common. Companies try to move production to create efficiencies, cut costs or grow sales.”

Michael Kittredge created Yankee Candle out of his home in Holyoke. In 1983, Kittredge opened the flagship store and factory complex in South Deerfield, and the business continued to grow worldwide.

In 1998 he sold 90 percent of the equity in his company to investment firm Forstmann Little & Co., who brought the company public a year later.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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